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2012 Volkswagen Passat Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2011
2012 Volkswagen Passat Photo GalleryHighlights:
  • All-new redesigned model
  • Same width and height, but slightly longer
  • More amenities than its predecessor
  • Standard 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (optional 3.6-liter 6-cylinder)
  • Standard 6-speed manual transmission (optional 6-speed dual-clutch automatic)
  • Standard front-wheel drive (available "4Motion" all-wheel drive)
  • Independent suspension
  • New technology includes City Braking and Fatigue Detection
  • Available early 2011
Introduction
The Volkswagen Passat is the automaker's largest sedan. The family-oriented midsize car was first launched in 1973, and has today become one of the automaker's more popular models by sales volume. The German-engineered Passat is sold worldwide under such names as the Dasher, Quantum, Santana and Carat.

Larger than the Golf and Jetta, the Passat is typically offered in both 4-door sedan and 5-door wagon body styles (although the wagon doesn't always arrive on our shores). While it shares many of its smaller sibling's mechanicals (the Passat shares platforms with the Golf/Jetta) the larger Passat is offered with more amenities, upgraded interiors, and a higher caliber of technology.

After five years on the market, the sixth-generation Passat has been replaced by an all-new, seventh-generation model that made its world debut at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

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2012 Volkswagen Passat Photo GalleryDesign
The all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat has taken on a slightly more aggressive appearance, much like the Golf/Jetta did last year. According to Volkswagen, "It is a completely new look, styled by Klaus Bischoff (head of design, Volkswagen) and Walter de Silva (head of design, Volkswagen Group), that was designed to establish a fresh direction with clean surfaces and an elegant yet imposing stance."

The front of the Passat features a new chrome grille with headlights (and new LED running lights) set deep within their buckets. A sharp character line runs down each side of the sedan, terminating at the rear tail light (again, with new LED lighting). Every panel on the body, apart from the roof, is new, according to Volkswagen. While its look is refreshed, dimensionally the 2012 Passat is as wide and as tall as its predecessor-although it is slightly longer than the model it replaces.

The interior of the seventh-generation Passat will be familiar to current Volkswagen owners. The new design continues with redesigned seats that can be specified to both heat and cool their occupants. They are also offered with a massage function for the driver and front-seat passenger. The dashboard has been redesigned with new dials, trim finishes and an analog clock (there are also chrome inserts and the option of ambience lighting similar to that found in the since-discontinued flagship Phaeton).

2012 Volkswagen Passat Photo GalleryHardware
Although engines for the North American market have not been finalized, we can expect to see a 4-cylinder entry-level model and a 6-cylinder high-range variant when the new 2012 Volkswagen Passat is launched early next year. The standard power plant will be Volkswagen's 2.0-liter, "TFSI" turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. That direct-injected power plant is rated at 211 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The larger engine is a 3.6-liter V-6, rated at 296 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque.

Volkswagen will offer the Passat with standard front-wheel drive (FWD) or the automaker's "4Motion" all-wheel drive (AWD). The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual, with a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic optional. It should also be noted that Volkswagen may drop its 2.0-liter turbo-diesel engine under the hood. The fuel-efficient diesel engine, already available in the Jetta, is rated at 140 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque.

The suspension is independent, both front and rear. The front suspension features MacPherson struts, triangular wishbones, and coil springs. In contrast, the rear suspension is a 4-link independent design, with coil springs and gas-pressurized shock absorbers. To control body roll, there are stabilizer bars on both ends of the Passat sedan. The power-assisted, 4-wheel disc brakes are fitted with standard anti-lock control (ABS). An electronic stabilization program (ESP) is also standard.

2012 Volkswagen Passat Photo GalleryTechnology
As is customary with many automakers, technology from flagship models eventually ends up finding its way to the lower-priced entries. The all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat benefits from this "trickle down" philosophy, as it receives two new safety-related features that were previously only offered on the automaker's Touareg and Phaeton luxury models. The first optional technology is called City Emergency Braking. Built into the Automatic Distance Control (ADC), the computer-controlled system is designed to automatically engage the braking system at speeds below 18 mph if an unavoidable collision is sensed by the vehicle, says Volkswagen. Unlike similar systems from other automakers, it is also able to accelerate the vehicle ahead and out of danger if it senses an imminent rear-end collision (the vehicle will check to ensure there are no obstructions in front of the vehicle before this occurs).

Another trickle-down technology is an automatic fatigue detection system. Electronics monitor the driver's inputs and automatically emit an audible and visual warning to recommend a rest for the driver if the operator's inputs seem erratic.

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